With DNA investigations becoming more and more common, we have to consider the cost related to this type of investigation. What types of cases should it be used for and how much is it costing us?
It was not long ago when law enforcement agencies paid $8,000 to $10,000 per case to have experts to testify for criminal cases in places like New York and California. Now with DNA testing, crime evidence can be gathered from blood, furnishing, saliva and other evidence in local labs. This change in how evidence can be provided has reduced the cost in some crime cases. In fact, in Nebraska, DNA was used as evidence in approximately 80 criminal cases. The cost, $90,000. Comparing this cost to $10,000 for just one case shows that DNA testing has a positive impact on cost when relating it to the number of cases that can be investigated and solved in communities.
Over the past 15 years, DNA testing for criminal cases has grown tremendously. With more than 150 public forensic laboratories across the states, thousands of DNA tests are conducted annually. This type of activity for DNA testing has brought increased revenue in the sciences and increased public and private services for individuals and businesses. Budgeting impacts become an issue when there is a backlog of criminal cases that require DNA testing. In fact, in Wisconsin, the average cost for DNA testing is $390.00 per case. However, when the State Crime Laboratory received 2,226 DNA cases in 2006 and was only able to process 1,152 cases, that savings quickly became a cost. They projected that millions of dollars would be needed for hiring and training DNA specialist. So what with DNA appearing to be a cost saving, it could quickly become a cost burden based on the number of backlog cases in a criminal laboratory.
DNA testing is a valuable service and can be cost effective. It has increased the efficiency and the speed in which criminal cases can be solved. As DNA becomes more popular, it is important the law enforcement agencies reduce backlog cases in order to reduce long term costs.